Federal judge throws out four of five allegations of negligence against Wells Fargo Bank

By Sandra Lane | Sep 22, 2018

MIAMI – A lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo Bank alleging malfeasance in allowing fraudulent bank deposits to continue for an extended period of time was dismissed on Sept. 11 by U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles.

Four of the five charges in this legal action, reviewed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, were dismissed because the judge said the plaintiff, List Industries, failed to prove its case.

The basis for this lawsuit began when in 2006, List Industries’ assistant comptroller, Salvatore Ciaramitaro, opened several bank accounts at Wachovia Bank, which later became Wells Fargo Bank. 

The accounts were named in a similar manner to List Industries, i.e., L.I. Worldwide Industries, Inc. The comptroller allegedly concocted a fraudulent practice to divert checks payable to List into his personal bank accounts at Wells Fargo. 

List Industries alleges that Wells Fargo Bank assisted in this scheme by failing to identify the alleged practice and stop the illegal deposits. The company accused Wells Fargo of failing to identify the forged endorsements and crediting the forged checks into the comptroller's accounts.

Judge Gayles wrote in his ruling: “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. Although this pleading standard does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands more than unadorned, the defendant – unlawfully –harmed me accusations.”

As a result, Judge Gayles said, “Because plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to support Counts I, II, IV and V, those counts are dismissed without prejudice as to all checks.”

Remaining was plaintiff’s Count III claim, which concerned a business account agreement and deposit account application / signature cards. 

“Plaintiff’s claims that these are unauthenticated and appear to be forgeries cannot be resolved at the motion to dismiss stage.  Accordingly, defendant’s motion to dismiss on these grounds is denied.”

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